As the School Counselor at Manantial, I get the opportunity to wade into the lives of our students in ways no one could imagine. Students shuffle through the doors with smiles, high-fives and fist bumps but in some, there is a storm raging in their hearts. I have been working with students here for 2 years and I have seen a range of challenges from the loss of parents, depression, and physical abuse to hallucinations, self-injurious behavior, and spiritual oppression. As we face these challenges, it is clear that God is using these counseling relationships to heal these students and prepare them to advance his Kingdom.
One particular area I have seen great effectiveness in is grief and loss counseling. Here at Manantial, we have experienced the death of dads, moms, and grandparents. Like many of us, children just don’t know how and where to express what they’re feeling if it’s not encouraged at home. Even though it’s a challenge for students to express it, children seem to deal very well with grief given the opportunity. I have found this to be true here in Mexico at Manantial.
Art has been the best way to help these grieving children. Words typically are unable to express the bonds, the love, the pain, the challenges, the memories, and the death. Art has helped them to avoid the angst of finding the right words and communicates volumes of information to the helper and themselves about what they are processing. Because of the Spirit’s use of this art therapy, these students have been reporting drastic improvements in their daily lives as well as reporting much more hopefulness. One student went from drawing dark/black death scenes as well as saying dark things to his classmates to speaking freely about his father’s death and drawing happy scenes from his memory with sunshine and boats. Praise God!!
One professor told me that grief is not about learning to deal with the loss of a relationship but about the transition from a relationship of presence to a relationship of memory. Children are often times the models for this difficult transition. When provided a context to grieve, children express their thoughts and feelings simply and artistically. As mentioned, we have used drawings of scenes they remember with their lost loved ones as well as clay renditions of their favorite activities. We did drawings of the day the loss took place and what they remember about the funeral. Moreover, throughout the counseling process, I have made it my goal to communicate the gospel of Jesus clearly and to support them through the love of Christ.
Jesus is working in the hearts of these children! He is demonstrating his power to heal and his power to transform hearts of sadness and despair to hearts of hopefulness and peace. The students without promptings have been drawing crosses in their scenes with their loved ones communicating they realize that Christ has been the captain in the storm of grief. We rejoice at what God is doing through the ministry here in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. My hope is that you will pray for the students and teachers at Manantial and that you would consider supporting this ministry in any way that you can so others can experience this love of Christ!
Rob Moser, GEM Missionary